Environment
11:15 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Weekend Dallas Earthquakes Occur in Fracking Hot Spot

A series of small earthquakes in the Dallas region over the weekend are reviving discussion of the link between quakes and the oil and gas industry practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Fracking is the practice of pumping hydraulic fracturing fluid into wells to break up and extract oil shale and natural gas deposits. Just how fracking is linked to earthquakes is a hot topic around the country, Texas especially.

The Dallas Morning News reports two quakes rattled the Dallas region on Saturday, followed by another quake on Sunday. Both quakes were in the Barnett Shale, which is rich in natural gas.

StateImpact Texas writes that it’s not the actual act of fracking itself that leads to earthquakes, but rather the disposal of the fracking fluid remaining after the process, which is usually shot into disposal wells deep underground.

A study from the National Research Council (NRC) “indicates that long-term disposal wells can be linked to increased seismic activity.”

StateImpact Texas also highlights a recent study from the University of Texas’ Institute for Geophysics which notes several disposal wells in the Barnett Shale lie on fault lines.